Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 10/22/13
Three at bats by Miguel Cabrera against Junichi Tazawa went a long way in determining the outcome of the ALCS. Had the Red Sox set-up man not gotten the better of baseball’s best hitter, there is a good chance the Tigers would be facing the Cardinals in the World Series. Cabrera is known for hitting fastballs a long way. Tazawa got him out by working away with fastballs. In Game 3, with runners on the corners and one out in the eighth inning of 1-0 game, Tazawa struck out Cabrera on a 94-mph fastball on a 1-2 count. The Red Sox held on for a 1-0 win. In Game 5, with runners on the corners with one out in the seventh inning of a 4-2 game, Tazawa got Cabrera to ground into a 4-6-3 double play on a 94-mph fastball on a 1-0 count. The Red Sox hung on to win 4-3. In Game 6, with runners on first and second with two out in the seventh inning of a 2-1 game, Tazawa got Cabrera to ground out to shortstop on a 94-mph fastball on a 1-0 count. The Red Sox rallied from the one-run deficit to win 5-2. Tazawa features a splitter, which he utilized 28 percent of the time in the regular season, but all seven pitches he threw to Cabrera were fastballs. That was the game plan, and not just for the 27-year-old reliever. The Red Sox attacked the hobbled slugger with hard stuff the entire series. Of the 89 pitches the Red Sox threw Cabrera in the ALCS, 53 were four-seam fastballs, 16 were cutters, and 12 were two-seam fastballs. They also threw three curves, three changeups, and two sliders. Categorizing a cutter as a variation of the fastball, 91 percent of the pitches Cabrera saw were fastballs. Cabrera’s Game 2 home run, off Clay Buchholz, came on a changeup. The lone home run he hit against Boston in the regular season came on a Jon Lester changeup. “I didn’t want us to make mistakes with off-speed to him,” explained Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves. “We attacked him with a lot of fastballs, and a lot of quick breaks, as opposed to slower stuff in the zone. To me, Miggy is never hurt. He could be on crutches and still be feared.” He was clearly hurt. That fact shouldn’t be downplayed. A healthy Cabrera would likely have done far more damage than five singles and one home run — with seven strikeouts — in 22 ALCS at bats. Yesterday it was disclosed he was playing with a groin tear that may require surgery. According to Torey Lovullo, Miggy’s malady had a direct impact on how Red Sox pitchers went after him. “We knew he was having trouble getting to certain pitches at certain times,” said the Boston bench coach. “I don’t know exactly what his injury is, but it hindered him from getting on his legs and extending. He couldn’t get to a power position, so we kept attacking him that way. We pitched him differently than we did during the regular season, and the adjustments we made were key.” Those adjustments included working off the plate. The Game 3 strikeout against Tazawa came on a pitch that was outside, and Cabrera chased several pitches up and out of the strike zone throughout the series. “I can’t comment as to his health, but I saw him trying to adjust to the way we were pitching him,” said Red Sox catcher David Ross.” He expanded the strike zone and started swinging at balls off the dish.” According to Red Sox pitcher Jake Peavy, the chase pitches were set up well. “He was obviously hobbled, but It wasn’t like he was hurt and you could just do one thing,” said Peavy. “The game plan was to throw the ball away, but we also changed his eye levels. Throw the ball up, throw the ball down, show him something in to keep him from getting real comfortable away.” Cabrera — who deserves a lot of credit for even being on the field — was never going to be comfortable playing with a torn groin. The Red Sox took full advantage thanks to a well-executed game plan and three clutch pitching performances by Tazawa. Lovullo probably said it best. “There were several times Cabrera came up with the game in the balance and we executed,” said Lovullo. “We kept him in check, and that was a huge difference in the series.”
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell drops first music video

Giants will pick up Odell Beckham’s fifth-year option

Report: Nerve damage in Jaylon Smith’s leg starting to improve

Kobe Bryant, Michael Strahan talk about Dear Basketball animated short at Tribeca Film Festival

Serena Williams posts adorable message to unborn baby on social media

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

49ers might roll the dice on a QB at No. 2

Report: Saints leaning toward not trading for Butler

NASCAR driver Chris Buescher helps fans amid flash floods at Bristol Motor Speedway

Are Packers players and coaches tired of cheap management?

Joe Johnson crushed Chris Paul and the Clippers while wearing Chris Paul’s shoes

Derrick Rose is touring NBA playoff games as a fan this postseason

Getaway Day: Wild, wacky and weird week in MLB (and that's just the injuries)

Most inspirational sports movies, series and docs available for streaming

11 names you need to know for the NFL Draft

The 'It's not good to play the King' quiz

Best of Yardbarker: David Fizdale and the Grizzlies won't go down quietly

Three Up, Three Down: Home run hitters are heating up

The 'Even the Browns can't mess this one up' quiz

25 times Mother Nature disrupted sports

In some ways, Dan Rooney was just another NFL owner

Box Score 4/20: When Westbrook isn't enough

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The '♫Happy Birthday Simpsons. Simpsons, it's your birthday♫' quiz

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Getaway Day: Wild, wacky and weird week in MLB

11 names you need to know for the NFL Draft

The 'It's not good to play the King' quiz

Most inspirational sports movies, series and docs available for streaming

Three Up, Three Down: Home run hitters are heating up

The 'Even the Browns can't mess this one up' quiz

In some ways, Dan Rooney was just another NFL owner

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The '♫Happy Birthday Simpsons. Simpsons, it's your birthday♫' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: David Fizdale calls B.S.

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker